Once upon a time there was an Israel that was a power in the Middle East feared by its uncivilized neighbors; an Israel with leadership and countrymen who fought bravely to maintain an oasis of freedom in a desert of hostility and human debris. Now it appears the oasis is running dry and the people have lost their desire to remain staunch in the face of an increasing threat to their existence.
The latest outrage, among many under the present leadership, is the release from prison of a heinous murderer in exchange for two boxes of bones of Israeli soldiers whose deaths remain un-avenged. There was a time when the country of the dead soldiers would not settle for boxes of bones, it would have somehow taken action to recover the soldiers alive and give a hundred eyes for an eye in the process. But after the Israeli version of “the greatest generation” left this world, their heirs are willing to settle for bones instead of respect.
For many years Israel has exchanged huge numbers of enemies caught while killing or attempting to kill Israelis for far fewer numbers of men and women soldiers snared by Muslims. However this math was justified in terms of human worth since one Israeli is of much greater value than the vermin for which they were traded; who wouldn’t trade one life for a nest of vipers or insects? But the latest “prisoner exchange” is not a trade of vermin for people, it is for the remains, albeit honored remains, for the dredge of society.
Samir Kuntar and four other terrorists were released from jail to a military facility near Rosh Hanikra recently in this exchange for the Israeli' soldiers bones. Samir Kuntar is a child-murderer of the worse kind. He participated in an attack on an Israeli family in 1979, and was convicted later that year of murdering three Israelis: an Israeli policeman, a 31 year-old man, and his 4-year-old daughter. The man's 2 year-old daughter suffocated as her mother tried to quiet her crying. The 4-year-old was killed by having her head bashed in with the butt of a rifle by Kuntar. Kuntar received four life imprisonment sentences; he should have been hanged by his balls instead. Now he is a free man and no doubt will participate in still more vicious killing of Israelis, he said as much.
After the prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah which included the release of Kuntar, reaction among the remaining real Israeli mench was less complacent than the Israeli government responsible for the deal. Shlomo Goldwasser, father of Ehud Goldwasser one of the soldiers whose bones were released, had defiant words for those who killed his son. "If Hezbollah’s great achievement is the release of Kuntar, who is nothing but a repulsive murderer, then I pity them."
Another family member of a terror victim, the mother of one of Samir Kuntar's four victims, expressed outrage at the release her son's killer and other murderers, calling it a "disgrace."
Nina Keren, mother of Dani Haran, one of the four Jewish victims of Kuntar's 1979 cross-border murder spree, said that she "could not stop crying" when she heard the news that her son's killer will be freed. Keren said that releasing terrorists with blood on their hands is a "big mistake", warning reporters that Samir Kuntar will kill more Jews once he is released back into Lebanon, echoing Kuntar's own vow to resume his terrorist activities against Israelis once freed.
There have been a few who have recognized the swap for what it is; including top military and intelligence officials who urged Prime Minister Olmert's cabinet to reject the deal, considering it a big mistake for Israel.
A backlash against the prisoner release was also expressed by many in the Knesset. MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) condemned the release of Kuntar and the other terrorists, calling it a "tragedy.”
"This is a tragic end for the families [of the soldiers], and it is also a very bad end for Israel's fight against terrorism," said Steinitz. The celebrations of the terrorist organizations in Lebanon - and they have reason for celebration - conclude two years of a failed Israeli battle against terrorism."
Steinitz was being honest when he also cited the growing strength of Hezbollah as a factor in the terror group's ability to manipulate Israeli policymaking. "Hezbollah has come out of these two years stronger military and stronger politically. With our help, Hezbollah has misled us for two years regarding the condition of the abducted soldiers, as to whether they are dead or alive."
"We have become the only country in the West and perhaps in the entire world, which is ready to release terrorist murderers in exchange for bodies and body parts," he remarked. "This is a dangerous precedent… and I must say that the entire country has derailed."
Steinitz also indicted the Israeli press for contributing to national derailment and charged: "The media has a part in this."
"Even in difficult situations, there remain principles. And our leadership…must lead, and not be led by the public or by the media, and not even by the families [of the POW's]. And when you lead, there are long term factors of national security to be taken into consideration."
Steimetz concluded "A prize was awarded today to terrorism. It reflects a general policy of surrender to Hezbollah and to Hamas in Gaza. We have given Hamas a de facto authorization to continue to rearm and build itself into a Hezbollah II in Gaza."
Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens echoed the anti-swap deal sentiment, condemning the decision to release the terrorists as a "complete lack of judgment" and calling the Olmert cabinet's deal a "mistake that is forbidden to make," as it encourages the enemy to kidnap more soldiers.
While Israel mourns a painful homecoming for its dead soldiers amid many protests over the release of living and unrepentant terrorists, the enemies of the Jewish state are cheering what they see as a clear victory over Israel.
The Lebanese government plans to hold a state ceremony in Beirut honoring the terrorists about to be released by Israel, including those who murdered innocent Israeli civilians.
One Israeli newspaper reported: “In the ceremony in the Lebanese capital, Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and President Michel Suleiman will officially greet the freed operatives, ahead of a Hezbollah event celebrating what the terror group declares is an Israeli admission of defeat.”
Hezbollah boasted about the prisoner swap in a report from the AP. The terrorist group who kidnapped and killed several IDF soldiers boldly announced that Israel's approval of the swap deal is an official admission of defeat by the Jewish state. In Gaza, Hamas terrorist leader Ismail Haniyeh congratulated Samir Kuntar on his impending release from Israeli prison and his triumphant return to Lebanon. Haniyeh praised "the great victory the resistance has had, which proved the righteousness of our ways," and said his own terrorist organization would likewise remain loyal to its operatives jailed in Israel as well.
Realistically, this is a hint that Hamas has been emboldened by the release to kidnap more IDF soldiers; and the cycle of exchanging bones for brutal murderers will continue.